For decades, Keith Hasimuna, 45, had been eking out a living farming in Mapobwe village in the Pemba district, in the Southern Province of Zambia.
But since 2018 he has been thriving.
Keith is one of thousands of farmers who are better off after the arrival of a project administered by the African Development Bank.
He has switched to irrigating his crop using a water pump from the community’s first-ever solar-powered borehole, instead of relying on erratic rains.
The borehole was installed in November 2018 as part of the Strengthening Climate Resilience in the Kafue Sub-basin project (SCRiKA). About 80 households, with an average of six members each, are using this water source.
Keith has seen a 125% increase in his income. He now earns around 4,500 kwacha ($244) per month, depending on the season.
“The installation of the borehole allowed me to grow a variety of vegetables such as cabbages, rape, tomatoes, onions and carrots at a larger scale,” he said.
After planting a hectare of tomatoes from seeds that cost about 1,000 kwacha, he is now able to realise sales of over 80,000 kwacha, which has allowed him to invest in other small business activities, such as building a communal animal dip tank, which also receives water from the borehole.
“From the profits realised from the sale of vegetables, I have also managed to take my five children to school, build a habitable family house and start a grocery shop,” he said. His eldest son has just completed high school.
By June 2020, about 30,000 poor households in Zambia who depend on rain-fed agriculture and natural resources for their livelihood had benefited from the SCRiKA climate change project.
Zambia has experienced increasingly frequent weather events over the past decade, including seasonal flooding, and droughts. Around 2.3 million people were left in need of emergency food assistance by the 2018-2019 agricultural season droughts, and the current COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenges of food security, underscoring the need for more resilient local agricultural production.
The Climate Investment Funds Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience and the African Development Bank are helping Zambia to promote climate resilience to protect vulnerable sectors and populations in three provinces (Lusaka Province, Southern Province and Central Province) by providing community-level infrastructure and farm-level support systems.
Started in 2014, with funding of $38 million from the Climate Investment Fund, the SCRiKA project has built the adaptive capacity of 800,000 farmers (including 36,000 youths and 350,000 women) to cope with floods and droughts in Zambia.
The SCRiKA project provides interventions at different levels. The main components are community-driven adaptation and the construction and rehabilitation of climate-resilient roads. The project’s activities are selected through a demand-driven process facilitated by qualified non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in partnership with the local government.
Such activities include micro-projects for flood control and diversion structures, small-scale irrigation schemes and water reservoirs.
“SCRiKA is improving vulnerable communities’ adaptive capacity to not only climate change but COVID-19 too,” said Indie Dinala, SCRiKA project manager with the Zambia Ministry of National Development Planning.
“The on-going climate resilient support we are providing to communities will enable them to become resilient and easily diversify to alternative sources of income when their regular source of income is disturbed due to COVID. Further, the closure of borders will spur farmers’ productivity and increased income and, with the support already rendered to our communities, it’s easy for them to benefit from this opportunity.”